One of my first memories was of watching a charming, witty, brown-haired bookworm teach the men in her life a thing or two – and I was enthralled. I am delighted to say, that Disney has done it once again and given us a brainiac for a princess.
STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Belle herself is physically matched with Emma Watson, however, the 2017 live-action gives us a few more (very much appreciated) quirks. For one, her everyday ‘peasant’ dress is slightly askew to show that she wears trousers/bloomers underneath – which is always seen as a deliberate wardrobe choice for empowered female characters.
The Beauty is also the Inventor in the new story – not her father, which was a wonderful way to show her independence when she invents the washing machine so she can read for longer.
Along with the addition of her dearly departed mother’s back story, there are some charming tweaks to the story which I am sure many fans will be happy with.
Belle’s script doesn’t change an awful lot when it comes to her conversations with the Beast, although there is certainly a lot more humor and sarcasm between the two of them, which adds a whole new layer to the famous library scene.
Speaking of the Beast – he was a surprise and a half on-screen. A live-action movie meant that the actor playing Beast (Dan Stevens), could have his facial expressions portrayed more accurately, making the character far more realistic.
There have been several online comments about how the Beast isn’t attractive enough once he transforms – which is absolutely ridiculous for two reasons. Firstly – Dan Stevens is a very attractive man. Secondly – those people are missing the point of the movie. It’s a beautiful tale about a girl falling in love with the man underneath the darkness, seeing past the physical to get to his soul. Belle certainly isn’t going to go through all that, see that he’s not that hot and change her mind.
I went to the cinema quite hung up on the change to the appearance of the enchanted antiques, ie Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth. However, I will concede to the fact that they are almost certainly more periodically accurate.
Emma as Mrs. Potts was a wonderful choice, although I’m not sure about her accent choice; her singing is simply perfect for the role. (Oh – and she has feet now!)
I was quite fond of the animated versions, but I am aware they faced many challenges when it came to actually animating and interacting with the character; one being Lumiere doing a can-can kick during Be Our Guest. But with the addition of some suitable limbs, he can kick away with the side plates.
Gaston and Lefou are interesting characters, and I’m sure there are many articles discussing at length the obvious sexual orientation of Lefou. But I am more interested in some of the more subtle aspects to their personality.
Lefou is not a simple character by any means, which is shown in the end battle when he helps Mrs. Potts and turns his back on Gaston.
Gaston is given a new layer in regards to his attitude and violence, by making him a soldier who has recently returned from war. Whilst somewhat implied in the original movie, it is plainly said in the new version. What’s more, he is made to look a fool in terms of literacy, when Lefou says ‘Ah, je ne sais quoi’ and Gaston replies, ‘I don’t know what that means.’
The only addition to the story that I wasn’t moved by was the Enchantress. She is added to the plot as a homeless spinster who has been watching over the corner by Belle and Maurice’s house for many years. This is probably supposed to be an act of foreshadowing, but it is certainly a change that will go straight over a child’s head.
The Romeo and Juliet string to the plot appears once more. Not only is it supposedly the loose basis for the story, it is also mentioned by the characters in both movie versions.
Literacy plays a huge part in both, however, in the latest edition, it is far more significant. For one thing, not only can the Beast read, but he knows his Shakespeare and even goes as far as to mock Belle’s enjoyment of the famous star-crossed lover’s tale.
The soundtrack is incredible – there is no doubt about it. It is the perfect mixture between the classic, well-loved songs, and some beautiful new tracks. The Beast gets his own song when he pines for Belle, and it really adds to his character.
The singing wardrobe has her own mini love story with her husband the grand piano, which is quite sweet to watch. She is also featured in a lot of the soundtrack as she as shown as one of the performers from the first ball at the beginning of the movie.
Whilst I will always have a place in my heart for the 1991 version, this new portrayal certainly deserves a place too. The cast, the music, and the quirks are stunning, and I can’t wait to buy the DVD, all the merchandise and probably the soundtrack.
Oh, and Disney – you need to make Enchanted Christmas as a sequel!